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Bible Commentaries
Acts 6

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1

Election of First Deacons - Elders, V. 1-7

1) "And in those days," (en de tais hemerias tautais) "Now in those days," of the early empowering and witnessing of the church in Jerusalem, Acts 2:1-4; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8.

2) "When the number of disciples was multiplied," (plethunonton ton matheton) "As the disciples were multiplied in number, "from 120 (Acts 1:15) to more than 3,000 on Pentecost, (Acts 2:41; Acts 2:47) to more than 5,000 (Acts 4:4), to multitudes or numbers so numerous and dense that they could not be reliably enumerated, Acts 4:32).

3) "There arose a murmuring," (egeneto gongusmos) "There was (existed or occurred) a murmuring," a continual complaint, an expressed dissatisfaction.

4) "Of the Grecians against the Hebrews," (ton Helleniston pros tous Hedraious) "Of the Hellenists toward or directed against the Hebrews;" In essence this was a charge of racial discrimination, racial prejudice, or preferential treatment of Jewish women over Grecian women, Greek speaking Jews, in conflict with equality of help for equal needs, Acts 4:34-35; Acts 2:45.

5) "Because their widows were neglected," (hoti paretheorounto hai cherai auton) "Because their widows were overlooked," neglected or by-passed completely, not cared for by the Apostolic distribution of the funds held in the general church alms treasury. This is the first recorded church controversy recounted, 1 Timothy 5:8-10; 1 Timothy 5:16.

6) "In the daily ministration." (en te diakonia te kathemerine) "In the daily or (everyday) ministration," in their common daily needs. Carnality of these church women therefore became an occasion, the major occasion, by which the apostles publicly acknowledged that the widows were too great a burden for them to bear. This led to the selection of deacons or ministering elders to observe such church matters, Acts 6:2-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-13; Titus 2:1-2.

Verse 2

1) "Then twelve called," (proskalesamenoi de hoi dodeka) "Then the twelve having called to or before them;” The "twelve" refers to the twelve apostles, inclusive of Matthias who was elected to fill the office of Judas Iscariot, Matthew 10:1-8; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:15-26.

2) "The multitude of the disciples unto them and said," (to plethos ton Matheton epan) "The multitude of the disciples (and) advised," instructed, or gave their judgement to the multitude of the church membership which had come to exceed five thousand in the Jerusalem area alone, Acts 4:4; Acts 4:32; Acts 6:1.

3) "It is not reason," (ouk areston estin hemas) "It is not pleasing us (to us)," to the twelve apostles, it is not good judgement, or proper stewardship for us as apostles, 1 Corinthians 4:2; James 1:5.

4) "That we should leave the word of God," (kataleipsantas ton logon tou theou) "To lay down (or leave) the word of God," to desert or neglect the handling of the Word of God, to abdicate their teaching and preaching call, to relegate it as a secondary matter of life while giving a priority of time and energy to equitable disposition of physical things and being enmeshed in racial counseling, Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

5) "And serve tables," (diakonein trapezais) "Repeatedly or continually to do common table service," to be food dispensers or waiters at tables, dispensers of food service of food stamps, Matthew 6:33. Paul later advised Timothy to give himself wholly "to the sanctified ministry of the word and prayer," 1 Timothy 4:15. No one is holy in the ministry of the word and prayer who does not give himself wholly (in sanctified way) to the ministry of the Word and prayer, 1 Peter 3:15.

Verse 3

1) "Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you," (episkepsasthe de adelphoi) "So then brethren you all look out," nominate, or select from among your membership or church, in a similar manner that the same church had formerly done with 120 members while electing Matthias, Acts 1:20-26.

2) "Seven men of honest report," (andras eks humon marturoumenous hepta) "Seven responsible men out of your congregation who hold a report of integrity," a testimony, reputation or report as honest men of upright character, 1 Timothy 2:8-13. These men were divinely required to be men of public integrity, men known to be absolutely honest to officiate in receiving, holding, and administering financial matters for help of physical needs in the church, Matthew 5:13.

3) "Full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom," (plereis pneumatos kai sophias) "Full of Spirit and of wisdom," or motivated and controlled in conduct, by the Spirit, and by wisdom, in what they say and do, Ephesians 5:15-19; To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be motivated, influenced, or controlled by the indwelling Holy Spirit in the believer (James 1:5-6) as he serves in and thru the empowering church, 1 John 4:13; Romans 5:5.

4) "Whom we may appoint over this business," (ous katastesomen epi tes chreias tautes) "Whom we will appoint over this office," or place over this official business, to meet the daily physical needs of the Christian church widow, for food, clothing, and shelter, Acts 2:45; Acts 4:32-35; Acts 6:1; Deuteronomy 1:13; 1 Timothy 3:7.

It is desirable that every deacon be not only a man of separated, holy, moral and ethical deportment, but also that he be zealous to see all men saved about him. 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Timothy 5:16-17. Perhaps the number seven was used as one of Spiritual perfection or of adequate number to meet their material oversight needs. This is usually considered to be an history of the institution of the official position of deaconship in the church. The root term "deacon" or "deaconship" was used with reference to the common Ministry of Jesus, the apostles, and Paul.

Verse 4

1) "But we will give ourselves continually," (hemeis proskartersomen) "Then we will keep or restrict ourselves continually," steadfastly, as apostles, to our primary calling and commission, to preach the word, teach, etc. Matthew 10:1-7; never weary of, but steadfast in the work of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9.

2) "To prayer, and to the ministry of the word," (te proseuche kai te diakonia tou logou) "To prayer and the matter of the word," to prayer, teaching, counseling, etc., Romans 1:9; Colossians 1:9-10; Studying, and the preaching of the word. This type of ministry (common ministry) of prayer and the word is used in contrast with the ministry of tables (Acts 6:1) where the matter of food distribution was as the primary cause of trouble in the church fellowship. To be such an apostle-witness it was an absolute requisite that he be a personal eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus Christ, from His baptism by John the Baptist, until His post-resurrection ascension into heaven, Acts 1:21-22; 1 Corinthians 9:11; John 15:27.

Verse 5

1) "And the saying pleased the whole multitude:" (kai eresin ho logos enopion pantas tou plethous) "And the word of the advice or counsel pleased all the multitude (of brethren)," or was acceptable when the apostles presented the idea before all the church brethren, Acts 2:46-47; Acts 4:14.

2) "And they chose Stephen," (kai ekseleksanto Stephanon) "And they (the multitude, congregation, or church) chose (or elected) Stephen," in a congregational method of selection, perhaps by raising of the hand, or stretching forth of the hand, as was done (Gk. cheirotonesantes) Acts 14:23.

3) "A man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost," (andra plere pisteos kai pneumatos hagiou) "A man full of (or controlled by) the Holy Spirit," a Hellenist, or Grecian Jew; as all seven men elected have Grecian names. This is the devout deacon-preacher-teacher who was faithful to become the first church martyr, Acts 6:8; Acts 7:54-60.

4) "And Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor," (kai Philippon kai Prochoron kai Nikanora) "And

a) Philip, deacon and evangelist, Acts 8:5; Acts 8:26; Acts 8:40; Acts 21:8; Ephesians 4:5.

b) Prochorus, about whom nothing further is known.

c) And Nicanor," who too is not mentioned elsewhere.

5) "And Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas," (kai Timina kai Parmenan kai Nikalan) "And

a) Timon, whose testimony of service is not recounted.

b) Parmenas, who too like many deacons received no further honorable mention in the Scriptures.

c) And Nicolaus," the only one of the seven believed to be a proselyte.

6) "A proselyte of Antioch:" (proseluton Antiochea) "Who was a proselyte of the city of Antioch," of the higher emotional and intellectual order of proselytes. It is a blessed thought that faithful deacons as well as faithful unpraised lay witnesses here shall not be unrewarded or unpraised at the rewarding hour, 1 Corinthians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12.

Verse 6

1) "Whom they set before the apostles," (ous estesan enopion ton apostolon) "Whom they stood before the apostles," the church elected or chose to endorse as common helpers of the apostles in the ministration of the care of the needy among them, especially the neglected Grecian widows. The church, not the twelve apostles, determined who, in her judgement was 1) honest, 2) of good report, and 3) full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, or controlled, directed by the Holy Spirit, Acts 6:3. This business was by congregational vote, as were the later selection of missionaries, Acts 13:1-4.

2) "And when they had prayed," (kai prose ueksa me noi) "And when they (the apostles) had prayed," as they did always, in word and deed, in obedience to their Lord’s direction, Luke 18:1; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

3) "They laid their hands on them," (epethekan autois tas cheiras) "They (the apostles) placed or laid their hands upon them," a symbol of committed trust, faith, loyalty, or commitment, of deaconship type of administration upon these seven brethren, by the church that had elected or chosen them, Acts 8:17; Acts 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6. This is the first mention of laying on of hands in the New Testament Church. No special grace was conferred in either ordination and laying on of hands or church election of elders, deacons, and bishops; nor did the churches transfer Holy Spirit leadership solely to the ordained brethren. Special spiritual gifts and healings were associated with individual apostolic laying on of hands, but never by the presbytery’s laying on of hands, which was of symbolic nature of committed faith and trust that the church was placing in the ordained brethren to qualify them as their leadership-rulers, by virtue of their leadership, so long as such was in harmony with the Church-Groom, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 7

1) "And the word of God increased," (kai ho logos tou theou euksanen) "And the word of God grew," or increased in influence, as it was preached and taught more effectively, after the twelve apostles were relieved of their greater burdens of physical and emotional counseling, dispute-settling labors, Isaiah 55:11-12; Acts 12:24; Acts 19:20; as it did in and thru the church at Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10.

2) "And the number of disciples multiplied," (kai eplethuneto ho arithmos ton mathIton) "And the number of disciples (learners) came to be multiplied," as they had previously done, Acts 1:15; Acts 2:41; Acts 2:47; Acts 4:4; Acts 4:32; Acts 5:14; Acts 6:1.

3) "In Jerusalem greatly;” (en lerousalem sphodra) "In (the) Jerusalem greatly or rapidly," though they had already done so many times as they had obediently begun their world-wide and age-long Holy Spirit, church endued witnessing, Luke 23:49; John 20:21; Acts 1:8, as cited in the above passages.

4) "And a great number of the priests," (polus te ochlos ton heiron) "And a large number of the priesthood," John 12:42; from among the priests, many became disciples also, as a result of the church liberation of the apostles from more tasks, to that of prayer, teaching, exhorting, and preaching in the ministry of the word, 1 Timothy 4:13-15.

5) "Were obedient to the faith," (hupekouon te pistei) "Obeyed or gave responsive heed to the faith," to the system of teachings of Jesus Christ, to which Jude admonished church brethren, Judges 1:1-3. To be obedient to the faith is to respond to the call of Jesus Christ, through His church and the Holy Spirit, to salvation, commitment, and service of love, Matthew 28:18-20; John 14:15; John 15:14; John 15:27; Ephesians 2:10; James 1:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10.

Verse 8

The Third Persecution Against the Church Stephen Brought Before the Council, V. 8-15

1) "And Stephen, full of faith and power," (Stephanos de pleres charitos kai dunameos) "Then Stephen full of or (controlled by) grace and dynamic power," the deacon and evangelist Stephen, who was also a doctrinarian, as indicated by his astute address on the occasion of his death, recounted Acts 7:1-60. On him had been bestowed special Divine grace, favor, and efficiency in the use of gifts, as expressed regarding the Lord, Luke 5:17; Luke 5:22. The type of power referred to was supernatural power, Acts 6:10. This power was challenged by the Sanhedrin, Acts 4:7.

2) "Did great wonders and miracles," (epoie terara kai semeia megala) "Performed (did) great wonders and signs," as the apostles had done before him, Acts 5:12-16; Hebrews 2:3-4.

3) "Among the people," (en to lao) "in the midst of or among the people," whom the Sanhedrin council had feared so much, Acts 4:13-21; Acts 5:26; Acts 5:38-39.

Verse 9

1 ) "Then there arose certain of the synagogue," (anestesan de tines ton ek tes sunagoges) "Then there stood up some of those of (from) the synagogue," the center of local religious teaching and worship among the Jews.

2) "Which is called the synagogue of the," (tes legomenes) "The one that is called," of the ones of the synagogue order known as, identified as, or called by the names following, from five areas, Paul (Saul) was from Cilica, Acts 7:58.

3) "Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians," (libertinon kai kurenaion kai aleksandreon) "Of Freedmen and Cyrenians and of Alexandrians," which seem to have been a group of language, dialect, and racial identity of a different social level and emotion from the masses of Judea. It is believed they had once been Jewish slaves to the Romans, set free and returned to establish a synagogue in the Jerusalem area.

4) "And of them of Cilicia and of Asia," (kai ton apo

kilikias kai asias)"And of those from Cilicia and from Asia," in localities considerably removed from the Jerusalem and Judean area, but who had come, returned, to Judea and established their own dialect and social level of teaching and worshipping synagogue.

5) "Disputing with Stephen," (suzetountes to Stephano) "Discussing or having a continuing dispute with Stephen," differing sharply, emotionally, with strong opposition toward the teaching and preaching of Stephen regarding Jesus Christ. For Stephen did "earnestly contend for the faith," Judges 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Verse 10

1) "And they were not able to resist," (kai ouk ischuon antistenai) "And they were not (able) strong enough to stand up against," not astute enough to successfully counter the testimony of Stephen, who seemed to be ready for their testimony of enmity against the gospel and doctrines of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:15; 1 Timothy 3:15-16.

2) "The wisdom and the spirit," (te sophia kai to pneumati "Either the wisdom or the spirit, the disposition," of Stephen who was one of the seven (deacon-servants) and ministers first chosen to assist the twelve apostles in the ministry of the church, Acts 6:3-5; Acts 7:55.

3) "By which he spake," (ho elalei) "With which he spoke out," or spoke forth, as later admonished by Paul for every believer and witness in the Lord’s church, even to this day, Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16.

Verse 11

1) "Then they suborned men, which said," (tote hupebalon andras legontas) "Then they suborned (enlisted by hire) men who said;” The certain insurrectionists of the synagogue of Libertines, did the treacherous deed, Acts 6:9, much as witnesses were hired to testify against Jesus Christ, Matthew 26:54; Matthew 26:46; Matthew 26:59.

2) "We have heard him speak blasphemous words," (hoti akekoamen autou lalountas hramata blasphama) "Who have repeatedly heard him ranting blasphemous matters," Matthew 26:60-66. The words were blasphemous only in a Judicial sense that they conflicted with the former law-order of worship given through Moses, Deuteronomy 13:6-11.

3) "Against Moses, and against God," (eis Mouses kai ton theon) "With regards to Moses and God," or against Moses and God, Mark 14:55-65, in conflict with the former program of worship and service that God gave to Moses and Israel till Jesus came, Matthew 5:17-18; John 1:17; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Colossians 2:14-17.

Verse 12

1) "And they stirred up the people "(sunekinesanteton laon) "So they aroused, incited, or stirred up the laity," the masses of common people. The "they" who incited the people and the elders were the hired false witnesses, and the Libertines, Acts 6:9, those who had both given and received bribes to pervert his words, lie on Stephen, Acts 6:11.

2) "And the elders, and scribes,"(kai tous presbuterous kai tous grammateis) "And the elders and the scribes were stirred up, aroused, or incited as well," by the suborned, hired, or bribed lying witnesses who served as pawns for the "certain ones" of the synagogue of the Libertines, etc., who hated Stephen, Acts 6:8-10.

3) "And came upon him and caught him," (kai epistanes sunerpasan auton) "And coming down upon him, they seized him;” These were those who were unable to respond to the wisdom and power of Stephen’s testimony, Acts 6:3; Acts 6:5; Acts 6:10.

4) "And brought him to the council," (kai egagon eis to sunedrion) "And led him into the council," or to face the council of the Sanhedrin, before which Peter, John, and the twelve apostles had been hailed and detained on former occasions, Acts 4:1-7; Acts 5:17-18; Acts 5:21-28; Acts 5:34-42.

Verse 13

1) "And set up false witnesses, which said," (estesan te marturas pseudeis legontas) "And lined up false witnesses who repeatedly claimed that," who twisted, distorted, perverted, and took his words out of contextual setting. "Coating" rather than "quoting" what Stephen had taught and preached, that the gospel of Jesus Christ and the new covenant church was superior to and to supersede (replace) the law of Moses, even as our Lord taught, Matthew 5:17-19; Luke 16:16; Hebrews 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:15; Mark 13:34-35.

2) "This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous” (kata ho anthropos houtos ou pauetai lalon hremata) "This man (Stephen continually speaks blasphemous words against;" Who ceases not to speak profanely against. That anything or anyone should replace the law and worship order of Moses’ law was considered to be profane and blasphemous by the Jews of the five orders of synagogues of the Libertines, etc. Acts 6:9.

3) "This holy place, and the law:" (tou topou tou hagiou toutou kai tou nomou) "This (very) holy place and the law," referring to the temple of the Jews, as Paul was later falsely accused, Acts 21:28; Matthew 4; Matthew 5; The holy place may have referred to the holy city, holy temple, and the place where the Sanhedrin met in council, Acts 6:14-15.

Verse 14

1) "For we have heard him say," (akekoamen gar autou legontos) "For we have heard him repeatedly saying," claiming or asserting. These "suborned" witnesses, distorters and perverters of Stephen’s testimony, laid direct claim to having heard him blaspheme Moses (his law) and the temple area of worship, claiming that he did it unceasingly or repeatedly, Acts 6:11; Acts 6:13.

2) "That this Jesus of Nazareth," (hoti lesous ho Nazoraios houtos) "That this Jesus, the Nazarine," the risen and ascended Lord and Master, who is to come again, Acts 1:8-11; Acts 15:13-17.

3) "Shall destroy this place," (katalusei ton topon touton) "Will destroy this very place," this temple, and he did it by judgement of Titus, the Roman General about AD 70; as asserted by our Lord, retold by His witnesses, Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6, and the revilers of Jesus repeated His prophecy in scorn and derision as He hung on the cross, Mark 15:29; Matthew 27:40. This concerned the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70.

4) "And shall change the customs," (kai allaksei ta ethe) "And that He (Jesus, the Nazarene) will change the customs," the ethics, the pattern of social life in worship, as Jew and Gentile might worship as one in the program of the new covenant church, John 15:16; John 15:27; John 17:14-24; The ethic of worship, thru Christ, removed the middle wall of partition for Jews and Gentiles, while remaining racial in identity, to be one in Spirit and worship, Ephesians 2:14-22.

5) "Which Moses delivered us," (ha paredoken humin Mouses) "Which Moses delivered (gave over) to us," in the law. The rites and ceremonies and sacrifices and feast days, revolving around temple worship, were displaced and replaced in the will and purpose of God in the establishment and empowering of the new covenant (testament) church which He too purchased, as an institution, with His own blood, Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 3:21. Jesus fulfilled and removed from worship what Moses had given. This is the import of His teaching, 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Colossians 2:14-17.

Verse 15

1) "And all that sat in the council," (kai pantes hoi kathezomenoi en to sunedrio) "And all those who were sitting in the council," the chief priests, the elders, the rulers of Israel, the Sanhedrin court in full array, Acts 6:12; Acts 4:1-7.

2) "Looking steadfastly on him," (atenisantes eis autoun) "Were gazing intently at him," had their eyes glued on him, much as the disciples of our Lord did when He ascended into heaven, at the wonder of it all, Acts 1:10-11.

3) "Saw his face," (eidon to prosopon autou) "Perceived or beheld his face with or in appearance," radiant with a supernatural glow or lustre, Matthew 17:2.

4) "As it had been the face of an angel," (hosei prosopon angelou) "Just as or similar in appearance to that of an angel," represented in art as a young person in the bloom of youth, or perhaps a pre-glow of peace and rapture glory such as was upon the face of Moses as the law was given, or upon Jesus, Moses, and Elijah at the transfiguration; 2 Corinthians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Matthew 17:2.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Acts 6". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/acts-6.html. 1985.
 
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